« ForrigeFortsett »
The love which survives the tomb is one of the noblest attributes of the soul. If it has its woes, it has likewise its delights; and when the overwhelming burst of grief is calmed into the gentle tear of recollection, when the sudden anguish and the convulsive agony over the present ruins of all that we most loved are softened away into pensive meditation on all that it was in the days of its loveliness, who would root out such a sorrow from the heart? Though it may sometimes throw a passing cloud over the bright hour of gayety, or spread a deeper sadness over the hour of gloom, yet who would exchange it, even for the song of pleasure or the burst of revelry? No: there is a voice from the tomb sweeter than song. There is a remembrance of the dead to. which we turn even from the charms of the living. Oh, the grave !—the grave! It buries every error, covers every defect, extinguishes every resentment! From its peaceful bosom spring none but fond regrets and tender recollections. Who can look down upon the grave even of an enemy, and not feel a compunctious throb that he should ever have warred with the poor handful of earth that lies mouldering before him?
But the grave of those we loved,—what a place for meditation ! There it is that we call up in long review the whole history of virtue and gentleness, and the thousand endearments lavished upon us almost unheeded in the daily intercourse of intimacy; there it is that we dwell upon the tenderness, the solemn, awful tenderness, of the parting scene. The bed of death, with all its stifled griefs, its noiseless attendants, its mute, watchful assiduities ! The last testimonies of expiring love! The feeble, fluttering, thrilling-oh, how thrilling :-pressure of the hand ! The faint, faltering accents, struggling in death to give one more assurance of affection! The last fond look of the glazing eye, turning upon us even from the threshold of existence!
Ay, go to the grave of buried love, and meditate! There settle the account with thy conscience for every past benefit unrequited, every past endearment unregarded, of that departed being, who can never, never, never return to be soothed by thy contrition !
If thou art a child, and hast ever added a sorrow to the soul or a furrow to the silvered brow of an affectionate parent,-if thou art a husband, and hast ever caused the fond bosom that ventured its whole happiness in thy arms to doubt one moment of thy kindness or thy truth,-if thou art a friend, and hast ever wronged, in thought, or word, or deed, the spirit that generously confided in thee,-if thou art a lover, and hast ever given one unmerited pang to that true heart which now lies cold and still beneath thy feet,—then be sure that every unkind look, every ungracious word, and every ungentle action, will come thronging back upon thy memory and knocking dolefully at thy soul; then be sure that thou wilt lie down sorrowing and repentant on the grave, and utter the unheard groan, and pour the unavailing tear, more deep, more bitter, because unheard and unavailing.
Then weave thy chaplet of flowers, and strew the beauties of nature about the grave; console thy broken spirit, if thou canst, with these tender yet futile tributes of regret; but take warning by the bitterness of this thy contrite affliction over the dead, and henceforth be more faithful and affectionate in the discharge of thy duties to the living
PORTRAIT OF A DUTCHIMAN.
The renowned Wouter (or Walter) Van Twiller was descended from a long line of Dutch burgomasters, who had successively dozed away their lives, and grown fat upon the bench of magistracy in Rotterdam, and who had comported themselves with such singular wisdom and propriety that they were never either heard or talked of,—which, next to being universally applauded, should be the object of ambition of all magistrates and rulers. There are two opposite ways by which some men make a figure in the world: . one by talking faster than they think; and the other by holding their tongues and not thinking at all. By the first, many a smatterer acquires the reputation of a man of quick parts; by the other, many a dunderpate, like the owl, the stupidest of birds, comes to be considered the very type of wisdom. This, by-theway, is a casual remark, which I would not for the universe have it thought I apply to Governor Van Twiller.
It is true he was a man shut up within himself, like an oyster, and rarely spoke except in monosyllables ; but then it was allowed he seldom said a foolish thing. So invincible was his gravity that he was never known to laugh, or even to smile, through the whole course of a long and prosperous life. Nay, if a joke were uttered in his
presence that set light-minded hearers in a roar, it was observed to throw him into a state of perplexity. Sometimes he would deign to inquire into the matter; and when, after much explanation, the joke was made as plain as a pikestaff, he would continue to smoke his pipe in silence, and at length, knocking out the ashes, would exclaim, “Well! I see nothing in all that to laugh about !"
The person of this illustrious old gentleman was formed and proportioned as though it had been moulded by the hands of some cunning Dutch statuary, as a model of majesty and lordly grandeur. He was exactly five feet six inches in height, and six feet five inches in circumference. His head was a perfect sphere, and of such stupendous dimensions, that dame Nature, with all her sex's
ingenuity, would have been puzzled to construct a neck capable of supporting it; wherefore she wisely declined the attempt, and settled it firmly on the back of his back-bone, just between the shoulders. His body was oblong, and particularly capacious at bottom; which was wisely ordered by Providence, seeing that he was a man of sedentary habits, and very averse to the idle labor of walking. His legs were short, but sturdy in proportion to the weight they had to sustain; so that when erect he had not a little the appearance of a beer-barrel on skids. His face—that infallible index of the mind-presented a vast expanse, unfurrowed by any of those lines and angles which disfigure the human countenance with what is termed expression. Two small gray eyes twinkled feebly in the midst, like two stars of lesser magnitude in a hazy firmament; and his full-fed cheeks, which seemed to have taken toll of every thing that went into his mouth, were curiously mottled and streaked with dusky red, like a spitzenberg apple.
His habits were as regular as his person. He daily took his four stated meals, appropriating exactly an hour to each; he smoked and doubted eight hours, and he slept the remaining twelve of the four-and-twenty. Such was the renowned Wouter Van Twiller, -a true philosopher; for his mind was either elevated above, or tranquilly settled below, the cares and perplexities of this world. He had lived in it for years, without feeling the · least curiosity to know whether the sun revolved round it, or it round the sun; and he had watched, for at least half a century, the smoke curling from his pipe to the ceiling, without once troubling his head with any of those numerous theories by which a philosopher would have perplexed his brain, in accounting for its rising above the surrounding atmosphere.
JOSEPH S. BUCKMINSTER, 1784-1812.
Joseph Stevens BUCKMINSTER was born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, May 26, 1784. lis ancestors, both by his father's and his mother's side, for several generations, were clergymen. His father, Dr. Buckminster, was for a long time a minister of Portsmouth, and was esteemed one of the most eminent clergymen of the State. His mother, the only daughter of Dr. Stevens, of Kittery, was a woman of an elegant and cultivated mind; and, though dying while the subject of this memoir was very young, she had made such impressions on his mind and heart as deeply and permanently affected his character.
Mr. Buckminster was a striking example of the carly development of talents. There was no period, after his earliest infancy, when he did not impress on all who saw him a conviction of the certainty of his future eminence. He received
his education preparatory for college at Exeter Academy, New Hampshire, under the care of the venerable Dr. Benjamin Abbot, for whom all his pupils ever enter. tained the bighest veneration.' At the age of thirteen he entered Harvard University, nearly a year in advance, and at once took the highest rank as a scholar, which he continued to maintain throughout his whole collegiate career.
In 1800, be received the honors of the University, and entered at once upon tho study of theology, for which he had an inclination at an early age. In October, 1804, he was invited to preach before the Brattle Street Church, Boston, and he was ordained as their pastor January 30, 1805.
But a cloud was soon to overshadow this fair prospect; for, in October of that year, he was attacked by a fit of epilepsy, brought on by too intense application to his studies. In the spring of 1806, the increase of this fatal malady induced bis friends to insist upon his taking a voyage to Europe; and, accordingly, he embarked in May for Liverpool. After travelling through Great Britain and a considerable portion of Western Europe, he returned home in September of the next year. He was welcomed by his congregation with upabated affection, and resumed the duties of his office with redoubled activity, and for a few years he continued to labor with unwearied industry, continually filling a larger space in the public eye, when, in the midst of all his usefulness, he was suddenly cut down. A violent attack of his old disorder at once made a total wreck of his intellect, and, after lingering for a few days, during which he had not even a momentary interval of reason, he sank under its force, June 9, 1812, having just completed his twenty-eighth year.
Few men ever died more lamented by the community in which they lived than Mr. Buckminster. His death was felt by all classes, and all sects of Christians, to be a great public loss. His life was one of uniform purity and rectitude, of devotion to his Master's service, of disinterested zeal for the good of mankind. As a scholar, Professor Norton remarks, “There is no question that he was one of the most eminent men whom our country has produced. In the time which was left bim by his many interruptions, he had acquired such a variety of knowledge, that one could hardly converse with him on any subject connected with his profession, or with the branches of elegant literature, without having some new ideas suggested, without receiving some information, or being at least directed how to obtain it. Yet he did not labor to acquire learning merely for the sake of exhibiting it to the wonder of others; but his studies were all for profit and usefulness. of his public discourses I do not fear speaking with exaggerated praise. To listen to them was the indulgence and gratification of our best affections. It was to follow in the triumph of religion and virtue."2
"Dr. Johnson has very justly said, “Not to mention the school or master of distinguished men is a kind of historical fraud by which honest fame is injuriously diminished.”
2 Read a memoir prefixed to his works, 2 vols., Boston, 1839; also an article in the “North American Review," x. 204; but, above all, “Memoirs of the Rev. Joseph Buckminster, D.D., and of his Son, Rev. Joseph Stevens Buckminster," by his sister, Eliza Buckminster Lee. Also a very fine article in the “ Christian Examiner" for September, 1849.
USES OF SICKNESS.
Sickness teaches us not only the uncertain tenure, but the utter vanity and unsatisfactoriness, of the dearest objects of human pursuit. Introduce into the chamber of a sick and dying man the whole pantheon of idols which he has vainly worshipped,-fame, wealth, pleasure, beauty, power,—what miserable comforters are
Bind a wreath of laurel round his brow, and see if it will assuage his aching temples. Spread before him the deeds and instruments which prove him the lord of innumerable possessions, and see if you can beguile him of a moment's anguish; see if he will not give you up those barren parchments for one drop of cool water, one draught of pure air. Go, tell him, when a fever rages through his veins, that his table smokes with luxuries, that the wine moveth itself aright and giveth its color in the cup, and see if this will calm his throbbing pulse. Tell him, as he lies prostrate, helpless and sinking with debility, that the song and dance are ready to begin, and that all without him is life, alacrity, and joy. Nay, more, place in his motionless hand the sceptre of a mighty empire, and see if he will be eager to grasp it. This, my friends, this is the school in which our desires must be disciplined, and our judgments of ourselves and the objects of our pursuit corrected.
TEMPTATIONS OF THE YOUNG.
It is true that every age and employment has its snares; but the feet of the young are most easily entrapped. Issuing forth, as you do, in the morning of life, into the wide field of existence, where the flowers are all open, it is no wonder that you pluck some that are poisonous. Tasting every golden fruit that hangs over the garden of life, it is no wonder that you should find some of the most tempting hollow and mouldy. But the peculiar characteristic of your age, my young friends, is impetuosity and presumptuousness. You are without caution, because without experience. You are precipitate, because you have enjoyed so long the protection of others that you have yet to learn to protect yourselves. You grasp at every pleasure because it is new, and every society charms with a freshness which you will be surprised to find gradually wearing away. Young as you are upon the stage, there seems to be little for you to know of yourselves; therefore you are contented to know little, and the world will not let you know more till it has disappointed you oftener.
Entering, then, into life, you will find every rank and occupation environed with its peculiar temptations; and, without some other and higher principle than that which influences a merely